Winston and Don ride against Maori preferential treatment in the RMA reforms

Don Brash and Winston Peters have joined forces, unofficially, opposing Maori preferential treatment in the RMA reforms.

Brash, best known for his controversial Orewa speech in 2004 arguing against special status for Maori, told the committee that the National Party had always accepted fundamental reforms to the RMA were needed.

“If I was asked what single measure the Government could take to raise living standards in New Zealand, I would without hesitation answer, ‘Reform the RMA’.”

However, the proposed legislation was “pitifully limited” and would do little to resolve the existing problems, Brash said.

“By widespread consent, these reforms barely scratch the surface of what is needed.”

In addition, the “extremely modest” changes had been “bought at the cost of greatly extending the rights of those with a Maori ancestor to have a preferential involvement in the decision-making process”.

The proposed legislation would vastly extend the preferential treatment already offered to Maori in the RMA process through the iwi agreements, Brash said.

“This is surely a recipe for further delay, for corruption, and for anger on behalf of the rest of the community…

“It is incomprehensible to me how a National Party-led government could propose a bill which violates the very principle of democratic governance.”

This is going to hamstring NZ if we have to ask Maori for permission for everything.

Brash said Peters, who has attacked the Government’s compromise with the Maori Party and made overtures to back separate RMA reforms, offered a “vastly better alternative”.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox asked what Brash thought of a recent Waitangi Tribunal finding that Maori did not cede sovereignty when signing the Treaty, to which he replied: “Very briefly, b******s.”

National MP Nuk Korako was sceptical about Brash’s claims of “enormous decision-making powers” for Maori, saying they were not backed up by the plans.

“What you’re saying are there are these great powers, great decision-making powers, but where are they in the bill?”

However, Brash said requiring local authorities to consult with iwi would add bureaucracy and delay to the process.

Not to mention add compliance fees, taniwha taxes and the like.

After the committee meeting, Peters re-stated his willingness to work with the National Party on RMA reforms.

“The National Party said it was going to be the most important issue during this term – it’s far bigger than that, it’s the most important issue in politics now.

“We want to see proper reform…that’s not going to happen now.”

Environment Minister Nick Smith dismissed Peters’ and Brash’s concerns about the reforms, saying the iwi partnership agreements would streamline and formalise the consultation process between Maori and the Crown.

“The real difficulty for councils when they’re receiving thousands and thousands of consents is trying to differentiate where iwi have a proper interest.

“The council will know at the beginning that iwi have a particular concern about this water body, and all those thousands of consents that are about building issues, of which they actually have very little interest, would not be involved.”

Claims that the reforms would increase the requirement to consult with iwi were “just rubbish”, Smith said.

Hands up anyone who believes what Nick Smith says…anyone? …anyone? …anyone? Yeah, didn’t think so.

John Key could swallow his pride with a slice of dead rat and work with Winston on meaningful and sensible RMA reforms.


– Fairfax


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  • andrewo

    It just underlines the fact that John Key is slowly turning National into a ‘Labour Lite’ party.

    • Graham Pilgrim

      I’m in favour of John Key ensuring that National remains an electable Party. Hopefully, come 2017, that won’t require the assistance of either Mr Peters, or the Maori Party!

      • Geoff K

        or Mr Dunne

        • willtin

          You are being very polite GeoffK. I call him Dunne and I pronounce the e

    • duve

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…National is currently well to the left of where Labour were in the Lange/Douglas/Prebble era.

  • Seriously?

    Winston doesn’t want to work with anyone on anything meaningful, he just wasn’t to make noise and get publicity.

    If he wanted meaningful RMA reform he had the opportunity to support National’s planned reform. Instead he chose not to, and then ran in Northland which successfully compounded his lack of support for the reforms. This is why National needed to water down their plans, and do a deal with the Maori party. If Winston wants to blame someone, he should try a mirror.

  • Cadwallader

    The RMA doesn’t need amendments it must be repealed. The nonsensical rubbish dished up under the guise of environmental necessity is not needed. Before the RMA there were a raft of statutes which operated effectively to preclude unwarranted environmental degradation. These statutes did not impose the levels of consultation now sought by local authorities regarding economic development nor did they grant whimsical powers to those who claim to understand the environment more than others…ie local iwi. It is difficult to understand how in the 21st century we are told to plan economic development in a manner so as not to upset a taniwha (read:Spook.) The RMA and the Local Government Act 2002 grant local authorities powers which would’ve made Stalin green with envy! The old action of private nuisance was an effective tool to ensure against pollution in a given locale, however the RMA has the effect of granting parties at a distance a right to object to a development whether or not they are truly affected. Get rid of the RMA!

  • Terry

    We used to have a Town and Country Planning Act that worked satisfactorily until society in general accepted the need to protect the environment, which was introduced into the mix by Simon Upton in the 90’s in the guise of “resource management.” Since then, we have introduced an Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Perhaps the next step is to get back to having planning in its own Act, and leaving environmental issues to the EPA. Planning at the micro-level (i.e. what you do on your own property) should be permissive, i.e. do whatever you like as long as it doesn’t adversely affect your immediate neighbours. Or it that too simple, and cost too many “planning” jobs?

  • George Carter

    Key needs to forget pride and play real politics. If he works with Winston on this one he cements the support of a large part of the population who want to stop race based policy. Even better though he chops Labour and the Greens off at the knees when it comes to building a relationship with NZ First for the next election.

    • anniem

      Completely agree, Key needs to swallow the dead rat and get on with it. Similarly to Oarsum I have always said that I could never vote for Winston First but with this looming not to mention the possibility of increased numbers of Muslims I might have to re-consider…….

  • Rokopa

    ‘National MP Nuk Korako was sceptical about Brash’s claims of “enormous decision-making powers” for Maori, saying they were not backed up by the plans’. BS to that. They can smell a trough a mile away!

  • willtin

    There shouldn’t be any argument over the ‘level’ of potential interference from iwi. in anything to do with our life here in NZ; there should only be equal influence from every individual New Zealander.

  • Oarsum
    NZ Centre for Political Research – The Weekly issue for this week is about National giving special rights to iwi. The title is Hypocrisy
    And follows a further discussion by a former Judge and law lecturer

    It confirms that you just can’t believe Nick Smith.
    It is a truly appalling state of affairs
    There’s nothing that would ever induce me to vote old man Peter’s party. So it is annoying that ACT is so poorly performing. Left party National don’t deserve my vote.